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Westlake Demons back in playoffs for first time since 1989
MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE Westlake quarterback Kent Axcell has helped lead the Demons to their first playoff appearance in 23 years.
Their baseball team finished as Division I runners-up, Colton Buffington and Lauren Golick won singles state championships in tennis, both boys and girls soccer teams won districts and now their football team is back to where it hasn’t been since 1989 — in the playoffs.
After a stellar 9-1 regular season, Westlake was rewarded with a playoff berth for the first time in 23 years, hosting the Mansfield Madison Rams tonight at 7:30 in the Division II, Region 6 quarterfinals.
It’s been a special season for the Demons, defeating Avon Lake for the first time since 1984 and earning a share of the Southwestern Conference — their first SWC title since that same 1984 season.
“It’s good to have everything come together and have the players get rewarded for their efforts,” Demons coach Mark Campo said. “I told them before last week’s game, ‘You’re going to remember this for the rest of your lives, and when you guys get together all the time you’re going to talk about it.’ I’m glad that they were able to create something special for themselves.”
Westlake, the No. 3 seed, and Mansfield Madison (9-1), the sixth-seed, enter the game riding five and six-game winning streaks, respectively.
Both have relied heavily on the run this season and are led by 1,000-yard rushers in Logan Paul and Kale Huss.
Paul couldn’t have asked for a better senior year, rushing for 1,371 yards and 18 touchdowns on 224 carries. In a 39-28 win over Midpark earlier this season, Paul rushed for an astounding 265 yards and three scores on 44 carries.
“He’s been our leader and certainly he’s gotten the majority of our yards,” Campo said, “but we have some playmakers around him that if you want to gang up on him we can go other places, too. We’re really a team. I think offensively we’re a challenge and defensively we’ve been solid all year.”
When the Demons don’t run the ball they turn to quarterback Kent Axcell, who hasn’t had to throw the ball much this season but has been successful when he’s had to.
Axcell has thrown for 673 yards and six TDs on just 52 passing attempts.
His favorite target?
Bryan Mackenzie leads the Demons with 20 receptions, racking up 228 yards and a score. Shawn Turk — who has 552 yards and six TDs on the ground — has 185 yards and another TD on 13 receptions.
“Their line really comes off the football,” Rams coach Sean Conway said. “I think their running back is very talented and I think their quarterback is a dual threat, he causes defenses a lot of problems.”
Conway knows all about players causing a lot of problems for defenses. His running back has done that all season.
Huss has rushed for 1,807 yards and a staggering 24 TDs on 225 carries. He averages eight yards a carry and nearly 181 yards per game on the ground.
“Kale’s a great kid, he’s one of the toughest players I’ve ever had,” Conway said. “He outworks out opponents and that’s why he is who he is. A lot of his yards come after contact but he’s that guy who keeps driving his legs and will not be denied getting in the end zone.
“He’s a very special person and a good leader for our team.”
This is Mansfield Madison’s fourth trip to the postseason and first since 2005 when the Rams won their first playoff game against Sylvania Southview but lost in the second round to the eventual state champion Toledo Central Catholic.
Conference: Southwestern (Tied for 1st with Avon Lake)
Coach: Mark Campo
Leaders: Passing — Kent Axcell (673 yards, 6 TDs); Rushing — Logan Paul (224 carries, 1, 371 yards, 18 TDs); Receiving — Bryan Mackenzie (20 receptions, 228 yards, 1 TD); Tackles — Paul; Sacks — Adam Sandor; Interceptions — Shawn Turk 6.
2012 Demons schedule
Aug. 24 vs. North Ridgeville, W 26-7
Aug. 31 at Bay, W 13-3
Sept. 7 at Rocky River, W 29-13
Sept. 14 at Amherst, W 39-21
Sept. 21 at North Olmsted, L 18-15
Sept. 28 vs. Olmsted Falls, W 26-6
Oct. 5 at Avon Lake, W 28-21
Oct. 12 vs. Midpark, W 39-28
Oct. 19 vs. Berea, W 35-8
Oct. 26 vs. Brecksville-Broadview Heights, W 17-0
Tonight vs. Madison Comprehensive, Playoffs
Team: Mansfield Madison Rams
Conference: Ohio Cardinal (Three-way tie with West Holmes and Mansfield Senior)
Coach: Sean Conway
Playoff appearances: 4
State Championships: None
Leaders: Passing — Alex Smith (29 of 56, 377 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs; Rushing — Kale Huss (225 carries, 1,807 yards, 24 TDs); Receiving — Kobi Johnson (12 receptions, 195 yards); Tackles — Huss 114; Sacks — Glenn Phillips 4.5; Interceptions — Dalton Fix 4.
2012 Rams schedule
Aug. 24 at Shelby, W 31-6
Aug. 31 vs. Newark, W 69-27
Sept. 7 at Mt. Vernon, W 21-0
Sept. 14 at West Holmes, L 31-28
Sept. 22 vs. Wooster, W 49-42
Sept. 28 at Lexington, W 14-10
Oct. 5 vs. Clear Fork, W 41-20
Oct. 12 at Orrville, W 14-12
Oct. 19 vs. Ashland, W 30-23
Oct. 26 vs. Mansfield Senior, W 34-0
Tonight at Westlake, Playoffs
Last Updated: 11/1/2012 9:48:15 PM EST